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Grant number like: FA-252258-17

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Rachel E. Zuckert
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL 60208-0001)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018

The Naturalist Aesthetics of German Philosopher J. G. Herder (1744-1803)

Completion of a book-length study of the aesthetics of German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803).

This project, to write a book presenting J. G. Herder’s aesthetic theory, has three central arguments. First, I interpret Herder's aesthetics as a naturalist theory, accounting for aesthetic value and art production on the basis of understanding human beings as organisms conditioned by and responding to their environments, both natural and social. I argue that Herder’s theory thus constitutes a pivotal moment in the philosophical tradition: the transition from eighteenth-century philosophies of taste to nineteenth-century systematic philosophies of the arts. For Herder argues that to understand aesthetic response (taste), one must understand the objects and socio-historical contexts that elicit and form such responsiveness. In emphasizing the place of aesthetics within embodied human existence and cultural contexts, third, Herder’s aesthetics is also a neglected alternative to the dominant understanding of aesthetics and art in the tradition, as disembodied and disinterested.